Lately I’ve heard several marketers woefully admit to a guilty pleasure. They like email marketing. For shame! First of all, email has nothing to do with Pinterest. Second, employing email in your marketing mix won’t impact your Klout score. Finally, we’ve been blogging and speaking about email for like a decade now! It’s just not cool anymore. I regret to inform you that I too suffer from this malady. My name’s Nick and I love email marketing. (Hi Nick.) 

Why the Shame?

While full-on shame might be a bit of an overstatement, it’s definitely treated at times as a black sheep among the social set. We spend loads of time on blogs, chats, and at conferences dissecting the minutia of the most recent Pinterest and Google+ data (What does it mean? Can it really mean that??) but much less talking about one of the oldest forms of ‘social media.’ And yet, as you’ll see below, email is stronger than ever and producing results in a big way.

Sarahjane Sacchetti, who helps market start-ups, bravely made this admission during her SXSW panel on social media. “While all marketers love to talk about the newest, coolest platforms and tactics, we’re less excited to brag about our latest email marketing campaign. Well, here’s the thing. It’s measurable. It works. It may not be sexy, but it’s still incredibly powerful.”

Why Email Still Matters

Prove it! I want to keeping talking about Facebook Timeline! No problem, you see with email marketing, it’s still easy as ever to talk about results. As Sacchetti notes, email marketing is extremely measurable in that it’s easy to access analytics and discern value and impact on business. And the results are getting stronger with each passing year. In considering email, it’s key to look at overall performance of the channel, return on marketers’ investment, and how businesses are allocating budget.

  • Channel Performance — MailerMailer’s eleventh Email Marketing Metrics Report reveals that click rates increased year on year to 3.2% and 2.9% during the first and second halves of last year, up from 2.6% and 1.6% respectively.
  • Return on Investment — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) puts email marketing’s ROI for 2011 at $40.56 for every $1 spent. They are predicting that this number will drop to $39.40, when email will account for $67.8 billion in sales. eConsultancy reports that 72% of email marketers call their ROI excellent or good.
  • Budget Allocation — Social Media Examiner’s Annual Industry Report shows that 64% will raise email marketing budgets in the coming year — the highest of any category including SEO and social media. Small and medium sized businesses are more likely to increase budgets, as they rely more heavily on email as it’s easy to understand, implement, and measure.

Beyond cold, hard facts, email marketing remains an effective tool as it allows for targeted, data-driven marketing while also building loyalty, trust, and a strong brand over time with consistent communications.

Email + Social Media

But we love talking about social media so much! Does this old, dusty email thing go with the shiny new thing at all?! As a matter of fact they do.

DJ Waldow of Waldow Social is fond of saying that email and social media marketing go together like Batman and Robin. “How many of you have checked your email in the past week? Past 24 hours? Past hour? Since you’ve been reading this blog post? Email is ingrained into our daily lives,” notes Waldow. “Yes, people spend an inordinate amount of time on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but email has been — and always will be — the digital glue that holds it all together.”

In fact, VerticalResponse reports that businesses that use email marketing and engage in social media see a 28% higher email open rate, according to their user data. It’s this combo that’s powerful. “The numbers clearly show that those who broadcast content across multiple online touch points are getting a lot more engagement than those who don’t,” said VerticalResponse CEO Janine Popick.

Some “shiny new things” don’t even fare as well as social media when compared to email. For example, a recent Ipsos survey noted that 75% of consumers preferred to have brands or stores send their promotions to their email inbox vs. SMS or text messaging.

The inbox is a very special place to be allowed into (as is the Facebook wall to an extent). Most texts still feel like interruptions. Unless you have push notifications on your email, you check your email when you want to. And you’ve told which brands you are OK with being there.

Bottom Line

Get over it! Even though email is the old new media don’t be ashamed of talking about it. And, more importantly, don’t leave it out of your mix. To do so, could be a costly error.

If you’re not too ashamed to tell … how are you using email marketing today? How do the results compare with your historical data? Are you investing more, the same, or less this year? How are you integrating your emails into social media and vice versa?

One more question … If I started an email newsletter here, what would you want it to be? Summaries from posts you may have missed? Original content? As always, I’d love your thoughts and feedback in the comments below.